Landlord evicts disabled Orange Park man, throws away medicine

An Orange Park man says he came home to find the locks on his front door changed and all of his property gone.

Joseph Atkins, 29, was able to get back into his apartment, but says he shouldn't have been locked out in the first place.

Atkins rummaged through trash bags of his possessions inside of his apartment at Park Village Apartments in Orange Park Thursday afternoon.

Atkins says two days before, the complex illegally evicted him and threw all of his property in the trash, except the electronics.

Atkins said he notified the complex he would move out on Oct. 31. He said he came home Oct. 24 to find the locks changed and all of his possessions thrown away.

"I found my birth certificate and I have my social security card and passport," he said. "But, a lot of my important paper I've been keeping for years I wasn't able to find. I looked through everything."

His clothes were also thrown out.

"It's all wet... It rained that night," Atkins said.

All his furniture (tables, chairs, couch, and bed )went along with it, including three months worth of medicine he takes for his disability.

"I was so worried that they weren't going to return my medicine but they found it in the garbage," he said.

The company that manages Park Village Apartments, Horizons Realty Management, blames Atkins' disability for all this happening.

In this email to First Coast News, Ron Azard with Horizons Realty Management claimed Atkins was not evicted. Azard said Atkins was to move out of the apartment on Halloween, but on Oct. 11, Azard says Atkins told management he was moving out early and turned in his keys.
 
So, when the apartment was cleaned out a week later, Azard says Atkins came back and told management he could not remember turning in the keys to management due to his medical condition.

Atkins says that's not true.

"I still have the key... I never turned it in," he said. "I'm paid up through the end of the month. Why would I turn in the key if I paid."

A payment history for 2017 shows Atkins paid October's rent and an additional $160 charge for the turning in his lease termination letter late.
       
When we interviewed Atkins on Oct. 26, he says he still had the original keys to the apartment. He showed us a set of apartment keys and a mailbox key.

We asked Azard, through email, how Atkins still has possession of the original set of keys if he turned them into management. Azard responded, again, blaming Atkins' health condition.

He did not answer our question.

Atkins called the police and filed a report. He says the officers and his father were able to get the complex to get his possessions out of the dumpster and give him a key to the new locks.

Atkins says his TV and laptop were taken to the maintenance office. He says those items were given back to him, but his Xbox, Wii Nintend, and games were still missing as the month came to an end.

While at the complex, First Coast News went to the property management office with Atkins to ask about the rest of his property, we were turned away and our questions ignored.

Atkins says he is seeking legal advice and plans to sue the complex for his possessions.

We responded to Azard, once again, asking how Atkins still has his keys if, as the realty company claims, he turned them in more than two weeks ago. We are waiting on his response.

We will update this story when we hear back.

Click here for tips on how to protect yourself when renting.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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